The People's Liberation Army launches its website of military procurement (www.weain.mil.cn) on Sunday. China Daily
Move is intended to widen field of bidders for arms, equipment
The People's Liberation Army opened a procurement website (www.weain.mil.cn) on Sunday to help private enterprises bid on weapons and equipment contracts.
The website, managed by the procurement information service center under the PLA General Armaments Department, publishes the military's needs, research sponsorship, specifications and instructions.
The department will release procurement information and policy changes on the website on the first business days of January and July. Specifications of badly needed equipment will be published in a timely manner, according to a statement by the department.
Businesses can register on the platform and then upload licenses and certificates to have their identities authenticated.
The PLA Daily quoted an unidentified official from the planning office of the department as saying the PLA has realized the importance of including private enterprises in its supplier pool and is striving to speed up the reform of its procurement mechanism.
The military is determined to break the monopoly on PLA contracts by some State-owned enterprises and to enhance competition among contractors, according to the official.
The move is the latest act by the Chinese military to boost the private sector's participation in its arms and equipment field.
The PLA General Staff Headquarters published a list in November of 108 military procurement items of "advanced training technologies and equipment", encouraging private companies to take part in the research, development and manufacturing process.
In May, the PLA General Armaments Department disseminated a brochure containing procurement information to private businesses during a high-tech expo in Beijing, inviting them to bid on a wide range of equipment.
"Private companies can start with electronic and communications instruments, logistics outfits and individual equipment," said Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute. "Their participation will help reduce the PLA's procurement costs and improve the quality and technological level of weapons and equipment."
However, private businesses may find it difficult to gain the confidence of the PLA, he said.
"It is understandable that many PLA units have concerns over private companies' confidentiality, technological capability, product quality and after-sales service. The armament business requires constant, huge investment and strong research ability that a lot of private companies lack," he said. "As far as I know, there is no private company that is able to build large ships for the navy."
China has been gradually opening its defense market to private enterprises since 2005.
As of May 2013, more than 500 private companies had received permission to develop and produce weapons or other military equipment, and about 1,000 civilian technologies had been adopted in equipment development, according to a report published by the PLA National Defense University in July.
Currently, a business must apply for and receive four government-issued licenses on confidentiality and technological capability before being eligible to bid for contracts from the PLA.